Aerospace & Defense
Innovation and collaborative, synchronized program management for new programs
MAN B&W Diesel, a subsidiary of MAN in Munich, is a leading supplier of large diesel engines for ship propulsion systems and stationary power supply. It is also one of the leading suppliers of diesel power plants and turbochargers.
MAN B&W Diesel has dominated its market for more than 100 years. To maintain this position, the company needed a more advanced digital development solution.
It isn’t often when the company that pioneers ground-breaking technology remains the market leader for more than a century. But MAN B&W Diesel has accomplished this in the competitive market of very large diesel engines. The company produces engines (up to four stories tall and 30 meters long) that are used for ship propulsion and stationary power supply. MAN B&W Diesel has the leading share of the world market of two- and four-stroke engines powering ships of 2,000 gross tons or more. MAN B&W Diesel is also a leading supplier of diesel power plants and generating sets. The company’s products are the largest diesel engines in the world.
One of the ways that MAN B&W Diesel has maintained its market dominance for 100 years is by delivering superior customer service. Many of its engines will travel all over the globe and be subject to a variety of environmental regulations. And because so much cargo is riding on the engines, owners tolerate a minimum of downtime for maintenance. MAN B&W Diesel supports its customers in getting the best out of the engine by including customized maintenance tools and extensive technical documentation with each engine sold.
Until a few years ago, engine designers, maintenance tool designers and people who created the technical documentation all used what is fundamentally a 2D system to create drawings of engine components. Each group experienced drawbacks to this approach. Engine designers and tool designers, for example, found it difficult to visualize the interactions between components within subassemblies, or between engine components and associated maintenance tools. It was difficult to detect interferences or misalignments, and this created the potential for rework after physical parts were made.
For the people involved in producing the instruction books, it often took up to a month to create a detailed assembly model. And once that model was finished, the only view available was the one that had been drawn. (The model could not be rotated or sectioned.) Because it was so timeconsuming to create documentation this way, instruction books were created for a particular engine type rather than for a specific engine model. Instruction books were used for up to 10 years before they were updated or replaced.
Several years ago, MAN B&W Diesel introduced a Siemens digital product development solution – now called NX™ software – as a replacement for its previous CAD system. Approximately 150 people – engine designers, tool designers and documentation specialists – have now migrated to NX. In addition, MAN B&W Diesel uses the Siemens Teamcenter® software solution to fully integrate synchronized management of all product data and process knowledge throughout the product development process within a managed development environment.
MAN B&W Diesel implemented NX to make the new design environment as efficient as possible. Taking advantage of NX’s open application programmers interface (API) and standard programming languages, the company developed custom programs that automate various design and documentation tasks. “The NX API makes it possible to easily automate tasks that are required for almost every project,” explains Michael Pedersen, a member of the technical computing support staff in MAN B&W Diesel’s CAE Competence Center. For example, Pedersen has created programs that convert English text on a drawing to Korean, Japanese or Chinese, and automatically place plate numbers, title blocks and plates on instruction book drawings.
When the Instruction Books Department used the previous CAD system, generic part drawings were frequently re-used for different engines because it was too much work to create a new one each time. This was not ideal as there is always some detail that makes even the simplest part enginespecific. “Our component drawings now take on much more detail because they are developed from the original component model created in NX during engine design,” says Daniel Nielsen, a technical designer in the department. “Because it’s so much faster to create technical illustrations in NX, our customers now receive instruction book documents that are specific to their particular engines, down to the smallest valve.”
The same assembly drawing that formerly took one month to create with 2D takes only one day at the most with NX. Since adopting NX, the Instruction Books Department is creating many more drawings and many more instruction books. And it is able to accomplish this new volume of work in the same amount of time it took to produce fewer, less-specific instruction books in the past.
Another benefit of using NX for instruction books – and of working from existing NX component and assembly models – is that instruction book documents are ready months before the engine itself. In the past, the documents were delivered along with the engine. “Having them available sooner can be helpful to the customer,” says Nielsen, “because it gives the engine chief time to learn about his engine. In the marine industry, the engine chief must be very knowledgeable about his engine. He must know every detail because of regulations, especially in the United States, such as those concerning how much pollution you can release and how much oil you can use. Early delivery of instruction book documents gives him time to study and learn.”
Members of the Instruction Books Department see a customized NX screen that replicates the look of the end product – a book printed with black ink on white paper. A custom tool bar provides one-click access to specific instruction book functionality. One button, for example, automatically sets up the predefined isometric view that is used in the books. Teamcenter links all technical illustrations to the 3D NX models they depict along with the correct spare part numbers. This makes it possible to find models and drawings of spare parts much faster than in the past.
The Instruction Books Department has taken on some new responsibility now that it has implemented NX. It is increasingly being asked to create images for use by sales and service personnel. Using NX, it is possible to create highly rendered images that look very much like the real thing. Nielsen created rendered images of a new slide valve, for example, that were used in a brochure explaining the new valve technology. Often the NX images are used by sales personnel for compelling presentations to customers. “Using a standard laptop computer, a salesperson can rotate these images to show our engines in a way that wasn’t possible previously,” says Nielsen. “It’s much more effective than a drawing.” At times Nielsen will create an animation with the NX models that he says are excellent tools for educational and promotional purposes.
Another group that benefits from NX is the department that designs the tools used to overhaul and maintain the engines. When MAN B&W Diesel delivers an engine, it includes between two and six tons of custom tools along with the engine itself. The tools range from very large devices that lift heavy engine components to smaller specialized tools without which it would be impossible to remove certain engine components. “There are even tools for using tools,” says Klaus Hansen, a mechanical engineer at MAN B&W Diesel who designs this equipment. The tools are supplied with the engine, mounted on panels situated at different engine sites so that necessary tools are always near at hand. This is important with such large engines. It would be an inefficient use of ship personnel to have a tool room located up or down several flights of stairs from the work site.
Previously, when Hansen and his colleagues used 2D, it was difficult to visualize how a tool would fit onto its related engine component, or whether it had room to move in a tight area. What usually happened was that designers modeled the tool twice. The first time they created the tool model it was to design the tool itself. The second time was when they were looking at the drawings of the engine component. “I would look at the engine component drawing; then to make sure my tool fit, I would superimpose an outline of the tool on a copy of the component drawing,” Hansen says. “I had to do this with two or three different views. It was very time-consuming.”
With NX, tool designers simply call up the NX engine models they need and virtually fit their tool into the digital model. “I see how the tool will fit three dimensionally, and it takes no extra time,” says Hansen. “This is a huge advantage with NX.” This superior visualization prevents costly problems that sometimes occurred in the past such as holes not lining up perfectly. “When we look at the NX models, we can correct problems such as this in the design phase, and not later after the tools have been shipped to the customer,” he adds.
Another benefit of using NX for tool design is that it’s easier now to make changes to the tool designs, which sometimes must be altered when an engine component is modified. “Tool drawings are more accurate now,” Hansen says. After tool designers create a 3D model of a tool, they create production drawings using NX. “When an NX model is used as the basis for the drawing, the drawing is impeccably accurate because it isn’t possible to accidentally leave out a line or hole, like we could with the previous system,” he adds.
By modeling engine components digitally, assembling them virtually and leveraging the design data downstream, MAN B&W Diesel, and its customers, are discovering the benefits of NX in transforming their entire digital development process. MAN B&W Diesel’s products may be some of the biggest in the world but as this company’s early experience shows, no product is too big to benefit from the accuracy and process efficiency made possible by NX.